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Fraudsters still using low-tech methods

15th January 2014

KPMG have said that fraudsters have reverted to low-tech methods of fraud, such as bouncing cheques, as large companies have concentrated on building high-tech fraud defences.

KPMG’s bi-annual Fraud Barometer has shown a high volume of fraud cases prosecuted in the past year but at much lower value levels than recorded in previous years – the average case value this year being £2.9m, compared to £6.1m, over the last five years.

While businesses spend increasing amounts of money to combat cyber-crime, they have become more susceptible to low tech ‘paper and pen’ fraud.

Hitesh Patel, UK forensic partner at KPMG, said, “It is certainly the case that we have seen fraudsters using very clever high tech frauds to attack banks, businesses and local authorities, but we have also seen some of the biggest frauds in more low tech scams. 

Disappearing ink

In one case a local government employee processed cheques for legitimate payees, using disappearing ink.  She managed to get senior management to sign cheques reaching a total value of £162,000 and waited for the ‘payee’ details to disappear before substituting them with her own name.  

Another fraudster acquired six luxury cars worth £1m, including an Aston Martin, Ferrari and Maserati by handing bouncing cheques to gullible dealers. He was caught when the cheques bounced and one of the dealerships visited his home to reclaim the vehicles.

Virtual world still the home for fraudsters 

Meanwhile, there were cases where banks and businesses were attacked online, with fraudsters using computers, turning to robotics and malware in an attempt to avoid detection. 

One example involved eight people, arrested in connection with a £1.3 million theft by a gang who took control of a bank’s branch computer system.  They had placed a ‘keyboard video mouse’ and 3G router to one of the computers inside the branch when one of the fraudsters posed as an engineer, saying he was there to fix computers.  The ‘fix’ enabled the gang to control computers remotely using code and surveillance to find holes in organisational cyber defences and transfer money into different bank accounts.

For further information please visit the KPMG website.

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To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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